The Star7

star7Developed by Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s, the Star7 was one of the earliest known handheld touchscreen devices. Although it never really made it past the prototype phase , it was innovative for it’s time and is widely considered one of the first PDAs.

It sported gesture based interaction, and even wireless connectivity. Introduced a year before the Apple Newton, it was specifically designed to interact with televisions and provided a variety of functions to work with programming guides and other devices like VCRs. It was even capable of sharing content with other Star7 devices. Although Sun pitched it to various cable companies, it didn’t generate a lot of interest and was abandoned. Sun moved on to developing Java and the Star7 faded into history.

Wolfenstein 3D

wolf3dDeveloped by id Software in the early 90s and released in 1992, Wolfenstein 3D helped launch a genre that would influence generations of gamers and shape the modern world of video games – the first person shooter. Inspired by the Castle Wolfenstein series by Muse Software, the game was a smash success. It helped popularize the genre on PCs and heavily influenced gameplay for shooters.

Begun in 1991 based on work by John Carmack, id pitched the game to Apogee Software founder Scott Miller, who agreed to fund a shareware title. That was followed up with a commercial release, proving the shareware model could be quite successful along the way.

The game also spawned a hobbyist community of players who created new levels and mod programs to further alter and add to the game. This ability would later be embraced by id who started including built in tools, which later became a staple in releases of Doom and Quake.

By the end of 1993, Wolfenstein sat at the top of the gaming heap on multiple platforms, having transformed an entire genre and influencing the entire industry. It is considered the grandfather of first person shooters, and gave rise to the enormous success of id Software.


lynxDeveloped in 1992 at the University of Kansas, Lynx was a text based hypertext tool for use as part of a campus wide information server and as a Gopher browser. It was released to UseNet in July, and later added an internet interface the following year. Support for other protocols including FTP,  HTTPS, and others were added over the years as well as several forks and variations of the original code, including ports to Amiga and VMS platforms in the mid 90s. Although it later fell out of mainstream use with the advent of GUI based graphics and browsers, Lynx is the oldest internet browser still actively in development and in use today in most modern Linux distributions.


mosaicThe Mosaic web browser was the first graphical web browser. Development was begun in 1992 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications when the internet was still very new to most of the world. At the time it was mostly navigated via FTP, Usenet, and Gopher, and Mosaic became one of the killer apps of the early 90s. Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina created the browser for the X Windows system and Version 1.0 was released in April 1993, followed by 2.0 in December with versions for both the Apple and Windows platforms as well. Both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator still used technology that originated with Mosaic for a time, and in each program’s Help>About menu credit is given.

Mosaic was the dominant web browser until it was eclipsed by Netscape Navigator, which became the new leader after Andreessen and others left the University of Illinois and formed Mosaic Communications Corporation, which later became Netscape Communications Corporation.

Intel Pentium

pentium5A 32-bit microprocessor announced by Intel in 1992. It contains 3.3 million transistors, nearly triple the number contained in its predecessor, the 80486 chip. Though still in production, the Pentium processor has been superseded by the Pentium Pro and Pentium II microprocessors. Since 1993, Intel has developed the Pentium III and more recently the Pentium 4 microprocessors.

Apple vs Microsoft

lawIn 1992, a judge ruled against Apple Computer in it’s copyright infringement case against Microsoft. Apple claimed that parts of the Windows graphical user interface were part of the Macintosh, and filed suit against Microsoft in the mid 80s. Microsoft contended in trial that large parts of the interface were theirs under a contract agreement between the two companies in 1985, which the court agreed with. This left only ten features of the original Mac GUI that Apple claimed Microsoft had no right to use.

This led to an analytical dissection of the elements in the interface and each got a separate ruling on whether they were considered an idea or legally protected copyrighted material. Apple was forced to rely on a defense based on the “look and feel” of the operating system, but the careful comparison made by Judge Vaughn Walker ran contrary to that idea. He ruled on August 7th that none of the features were considered protected under copyright law, effectively dismissing the case against Microsoft.

Michelangelo Virus

virusThe Michelangelo virus was one of the first viruses to capture widespread public attention on such a massive scale. It was capable of destroying the contents of hard drives on the same date as the famous artists’ birthday, March 6th.

This turned out to be more hype than fact, and the hysteria over it made it the first high profile virus. In January of 1992, two major computer manufacturers announced they had erroneously shipped equipment infected with Michelangelo. The media would eventually inflate it’s immediate threat, becoming fascinated with it. This in turn created mass hysteria. Anti virus software flew off the shelves, fueling conspiracy theorists’ wildest dreams.

When March 6th arrived, worldwide incidents were between 10,000-20,000. This was not the widely reported five million the general public expected and the media quit running stories about Michelangelo the same day, hoping to forget the embarrassment. The virus is relatively dead in today’s time, overshadowed by it’s more powerful grandchildren like Blaster and Sobig.

The original CERT advisory on Michelangelo is available from: